Light a candle, sing a song, say a blessing – creating your own family rituals

Your day might seem chaotic and crazy. You may feel as though there is no order at all. However, creating a fairly predictable daily rhythm (no, you don’t have to watch the clock), marked with your own unique family rituals, will help you feel more ‘in control’. And, by sharing moments of family time connecting with love and reverence, you will be filling your children’s emotional tanks. They will find transitions easier because they know ‘what is coming next’ and they will naturally become more cooperative.

We all have different priorities and values to share with our children, and these can be reflected in daily rituals such as saying a blessing or lighting a candle before sharing meals or singing a special bedtime song; weekly rituals such as fish and chip night, pancake breakfasts on Saturday, or Sunday lunch with extended family; seasonal rituals such as spring cleaning or raking Autumn leaves and of course, special celebrations such as birthdays and holidays.

As well as creating your own unique family culture and cementing family bonds, there are documented benefits of implementing family rituals: after reviewing 50 years of research, psychologists at New York’s Syracuse University concluded that families who reported following routines such as eating together, bedtime lullabies, birthday celebrations and meals with extended family enjoyed some important health benefits: better overall children’s health, increased marital satisfaction and less stress. 

Creating rituals:

  • Examine your day. Which acts are habitual and what activities do you and your child enjoy (or find a challenge). Consider how you can invest this time with meaning – with a favourite song or lighting a candle, for instance or perhaps a specific activity before or after work.
  •  Take it slowly. Too many changes can be as chaotic as no rituals at all. Waking and bedtime are significant transitions, so these are a good starting point for creating rituals.
  • Look to your own childhood. What were your happiest celebrations? How can you weave this magic for your own child?
  •  You are unique so is your child. Your rituals are a part of what identifies you as a family, so throw out pre-conceived ideas if they don’t suit and celebrate your individuality. If both parents are from different cultural backgrounds, for instance, mix your own blend of celebrations as you expose your children to the richness of both extended families.